The 2018 Men’s World Cup is right around the corner with the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia kicking things off on Thursday, June 14.
I’d love to let you know when the United States play their first match, but sadly that won’t be until 2022 (hopefully). Team USA did not qualify for this year’s Cup, which is completely unacceptable. In the final qualifying match, the USA lost to Trinidad and Tobago to botch their opportunity. To give you perspective, the USA is ranked No. 23 in the world, while Trinidad and Tobago are ranked No. 92. That’s no OK.
But that’s over and done with. I can get bummed about it, or I can move on, and I’m choosing the latter. The World Cup is one of my favorite sporting events and I’m determined to enjoy it as much as I can. But, as a sports fan, I need to cheer for someone to make my time worth it, right? But what team should I throw my support behind?
As one does when faced with a question, I turned to Google. “Who to cheer for in the World Cup” was typed into my search bar and I found a quiz on fivethiryeight.com. This simple, seven-question quiz told me the answer(s) I was looking for.
Turns out I wasn’t prepared for the first question on the quiz. You have to choose the team strength you’re interested in cheering for, ranging from underdogs, could make some noise, or powerhouse. I decided I’d fill out the quiz three times, only changing the answer to the first question.
In past years, I’ve always enjoyed watching Brazil play because of the style and flair on display, so I was pretty excited when 538 told me my powerhouse team was Brazil. I’m familiar with a few of their players and, as is the case in times when you have no real allegiance to a team, I like their uniforms (or “kits” as is the term used in soccer).
My excitement for getting Brazil was then crushed when my “could make noise” team turned out to be Russia. Sorry, but when I was growing up the Soviet Union and Russia were always the bad guys. Russia is the host country, so the crowd support will always be in its favor, but I just can’t bring myself to cheer for the bad guys.
My underdog is South Korea. I know nothing about South Korean soccer other than they co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan and the United States had a magical run to the quarterfinals that year. I guess that’s a good enough connection.
(While they won’t get my full support, Colombia and Iceland will have my “awesome kit” support just because they’re going to look good.)
Brazil is in Group E and South Korea is in Group F, which are paired up in bracket play. If Brazil wins its group and South Korea is second in F, they’ll play in the first round of the knockout stage. I’ll have to find a new quiz if that happens.